BIPOC Avalanche Awareness Instructor Program

Program Details

Apply HereFAQs

If you have any questions about your eligibility or the program please reach out to info@nwac.us.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is an Awareness Course?

NWAC offers free avalanche classes to the public throughout our forecast area. These classes are 90 minute introductory presentations geared towards the novice wintertime backcountry user. The class covers basic risk management, where to find resources for avalanche and mountain weather forecasts, and basic signs of avalanche danger. NWAC contracts a team of up to 50 instructors annually to deliver these programs. Instructors are compensated $100 per class. 

Classes are 90 minutes and not intended to be a comprehensive guide. Key learning objectives include: 

- Recognizing how the choices you and your team make impact the level of risk you encounter in the mountains 

- Understanding how local avalanche centers act as resources for information and education 

- Listing basic avalanche rescue gear 

- Identifying the need for continuing education 

What experience is required to apply? 

This program is designed for BIPOC individuals that are passionate about recreating in the snow and want to bring that enthusiasm to the broader community. No formal education is required as NWAC will be providing all training necessary to deliver a successful Avalanche Awareness Course.

How will candidates be selected? 

Candidates will be selected by NWAC Staff, Program Instructors, and NWAC’s DEI committee. We will be evaluating each applicant based on snow experience, teaching experience, and overall involvement and investment in the outdoor recreation community. 

What will the training include? 

This program will consist of an eight hour experiential training course where participants will broaden their own avalanche knowledge and be trained on how to effectively instruct an Avalanche Awareness Course. Participants will then shadow an experienced instructor and have the opportunity for support and feedback during their first course. All instructors are compensated $100 per awareness course taught. We hope that participants will continue to instruct courses throughout this season and future seasons.

Why does NWAC feel this program is necessary

At NWAC we run all our education programs and initiatives through the lens of addressing unmet needs in our community. We consider the deficit of BIPOC instructors working in the snow and avalanche industry to be a need we have the ability to address. 

We made a commitment in our DEI statement to increase programming towards underserved communities. The program aims to create more pathways for traditionally underrepresented people in the outdoor industry through increasing diversity within our instructor team and creating opportunities for wider representation in the snow and avalanche profession. Representation in leadership and instructor roles creates a more welcoming and equitable environment for more diverse user groups to feel comfortable using and entering the outdoor winter recreation space.

What other instructor or program opportunities does NWAC offer? 

There are a number of opportunities to apply for NWAC education positions, volunteer opportunities, and seasonal employment. We encourage you to check out the homepage for all updates. Additionally, we run a women's mentorship program in partnership with SheJumps. Applications for this program will open in October.

Awareness Courses are a staple of NWAC’s educational programming and provide 60-90 minute beginner level avalanche education to new wintertime backcountry users. The course covers risk management, where to find resources for avalanche and mountain weather forecasts, and basic signs of avalanche danger. These courses are free and open to all levels and user types. NWAC contracts a team of up to 50 instructors annually to deliver these programs.


Time Commitment
- 8 hours of training taking place over three weekday evenings in late October
- Expectation that participants will instruct at least two courses over the winter months

Program Objectives
- Participants will broaden their own avalanche knowledge
- Participants will be trained on how to effectively instruct an Avalanche Awareness Course*
- Participants will shadow an experienced instructor
- Option to have an experienced instructor accompany participants for their first course and provide feedback
- Participants will continue to instruct courses at their leisure throughout this season and future seasons

*Due to COVID-19 concerns, all Avalanche Awareness Courses will be taught virtually for the remainder of 2021. 

Last summer, the Northwest Avalanche Center (NWAC) made a commitment to fostering inclusivity and taking concrete steps towards a more anti-racist outdoor community. Our full statement can be found here. In this commitment, we pledged to evaluate our programming through a lens of equity and inclusivity.

This year, we are excited to launch the BIPOC Avalanche Awareness Instructor Program. This program is designed to address racial disparity in the snow and avalanche profession and lower barriers of entry to this work. Through this train-the-trainer approach, we aim to increase diversity within NWAC’s Awareness Instructor pool as well as the snow and avalanche industry at large. The program will provide a comprehensive resource for bringing new instructors into the awareness program.

Our intention in building this program is to create more direct streams for BIPOC to work in and engage with the snow and avalanche profession. We hope this will act as one starting place within our organization for BIPOC to develop their leadership and access career development opportunities. While we are not requiring formalized avalanche education, we are looking for individuals who are passionate about recreating in the snow and want to bring that enthusiasm to the broader community.

This program will consist of an eight hour experiential training course where participants will broaden their own avalanche knowledge and be trained on how to effectively instruct an Avalanche Awareness Course. Participants will then shadow an experienced instructor and have the opportunity for support and feedback during their first course.  We hope that participants will continue to instruct courses throughout this season and future seasons.

Thank you Climbers of Color for collaborating and building the concept and structure for this program.


NWAC's DEI Statement